Chile has been internationally renowned for the quality of its wines for years. Its varied geography with abundant valleys and mediterranean climate makes it a place with a vast viticulture production. These and other natural characteristics were the ones that allowed Chilean vineyards not to be affected by a plague of phylloxera that killed several vines in Europe, and which extended up to Peru by the end of 19th century. In 1994, more than one century after, the plantation of a vine thought extinct forever was discovered in Chile: the Carmenere vine. Since then, this has become Chile’s signature variety.
With the aim of protecting the natural characteristics of our territory, wineries have invested in the improvement of their production processes so that the impact on the environment is reduced and a sustainable production pace is attained. The development of new sustainable practices lead the Asociación Vinos de Chile, or “Association of Wines of Chile”, to create the “Código Nacional de Sustentabilidad de la Industria Vitivinícola Chilena” (translated literally “National Code for the Sustainability of Chilean Wine Industry”), which regulates and certifies vineyards that adhere to this production method. We invite you to know the environmentally friendly practices of some vineyards.
Caliterra Winery: Fighting plagues with raptors
Caliterra Winery not only has the best Carmenere of Chile, according to the 11th Annual Wines of Chile Awards of 2013, but they also have innovative sustainable policies. Located in Colchagua Valley, 150 km away from Santiago, this winery has developed a unique project in Chile for controlling plagues. Through refuges in altitude, Caliterra seeks to attract native raptors to the area; raptors that have been endangered by the indiscriminate hunting in the surroundings. In this way, the vineyard territory is a secure refuge for birds like jotes, eagles, and falcons. These, in turn, are in charge of controlling plagues that affect vine plantations, which discards the use of pesticides and ensure the least impact on the ecosystem.
The plague control with raptors adds up to other sustainable practices that Caliterra Vineyard has been using for a couple of years. Others are the use of biological corridors in its plantations, the aid from wild horses that control forest fires, and the rational use of water. These practices are the ones that shape its eco friendly production philosophy. What is more, the Sustainability Code created by Caliterra served as a model for the National Code launched by Wines of Chile later.
Cono Sur Winery: Biological Corridors for Plague Control
Conosur Winery has also followed a friendly philosophy regarding the environment, which is reflected in the smallest details of its production. For example, the Cono Sur team moves in bicycle in and out of the country states. Besides, they use biological corridors for controlling plagues. “The corridors attract more bugs and other things we cannot see, which we want to act as controllers of plagues that attack our vineyard,” says Gregorio Maulén, assistant director of Matriz Country State of Cono Sur. What happens is that, in biological corridors, the same native flora of Colchagua valley, where the vineyard is located, becomes a refuge for the natural enemies that attack the plantations. In this way, the use of chemical compounds in wine production is reduced.
Emiliana Winery: 100% Organic Wines
The sustainable philosophy not only considers aspects of vineyard production, but also another important component, which is the relationship established with the community who works in the vineyard. In Emiliana Winery, located in Casablanca valley, central Chile, the social aspect of sustainability is present through scholarship and training programs offered to the workers. This is done with the aim of making them improve and acquire new knowledge. Emiliana Winery has also allocated 1.5 hectares from their vineyard for supporting the development of small enterprises of their own workers. In these areas, there are other by-products like honey, olive oil, and vegetables, which Emiliana colaborators can work and sell. This is possible due to the careful environmental conservation work done in the vineyard.
This post is also available in Spanish